Pin It

A Celebration of Tilda Swinton

We explore the inimitable Tilda Swinton through the words of her greatest collaborators – from Patti Smith to Juergen Teller – alongside an exclusive archive fashion story from AnOther Magazine S/S09

PhotographyCraig McDeanStylingPanos YiapanisTextAnOther

Tilda Swinton’s indelible legacy on contemporary culture defies categorisation. Whether playing the role of Caravaggio’s muse, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, a Jil Sander-bedecked socialite, or her appearance as Marianne Lane on the new cover of AnOther Magazine, her ethereal yet somehow subversive beauty – compounded with her exceptional ability as an actor – has established her as one of the world’s greatest stars. “She is a fashion existentialist,” explained Simon Doonan in AnOther Magazine S/S09. “I think she is a magician, and I think she may be a witch,” said artist Cerith Wyn Edwards. In fact, rather than classifying herself as an actor, she explained herself that “if I go to St Peter’s gate, I would most comfortably describe myself as an artist’s model, certainly more than actor or performer.” In honour of the AnOther Magazine premiere of her latest film tomorrow night, Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, we revisit extracts from an archive feature that brought together 35 of her friends and collaborators – some of the creative industries’ foremost luminaries – to explain what it is about Tilda they find just so inspiring.

Patti Smith
“She is both princess and prince. I loved her in Caravaggio and Orlando. She can in a turn seem consumptive then comic.” 

Viktor & Rolf
“Tilda Swinton gave us the most beautiful compliment ever. After the show, she came up to us and said: ‘To imagine that 15 minutes ago, this didn’t exist!’ That was so poetic. I don’t know, it was such an unusual, beautiful compliment that we stayed in touch. She made the clothes alive. And it was, I think, the first time that we thought, Oh wow, this is really a woman we want to work for.”

Simon Doonan
“She is a fashion existentialist. One of that rare group of women who actually create trends. You know, it’s a very small group of women. Like Siouxsie Sioux, Diana Vreeland or Nancy Cunard. These are women whose personal style is very extreme. It’s not all organised around the idea of trying to look hot for men. Whether she is wearing one of her kids’ school uniforms, daisy chains and bare feet or something more elaborate, it’s all effortless. Her favourite dress, she told me, is like an old Givenchy Pierrot but smells of old ladies’ pee.”

Jerry Stafford
“She is at her most stylish when she is going down to the bakery on Nairn High Street wearing a mixture of Lanvin and wellington boots and a floppy hat from a charity store. That’s when she is at her most inventive. The perfect outfit for Tilda to wear down the red carpet would be a pair of pyjamas, the most comfortable piece of clothing that doesn’t even feel like she’s got anything on. She wore Lanvin pyjamas in bed after she got her Oscar.”

Franca Sozzani
“We did the cover of L’Uomo Vogue with Tilda like a man. When she saw the Polaroids while they were doing the shoot, she said, “Oh my God, I look exactly like my father!” For me, she is the modern beauty. Usually actors dress so badly but she has so much style. When you see her at festivals, you look at her immediately. When she walks into a room, you feel that she’s there. She has presence.” 

Edward Enninful
“When David Bowie saw my book, he could not believe it when he saw the [Bowie-inspired 2003 Vogue Italia] pictures of Tilda. He thought it was him. He was like, ‘When did I do this shoot?’ He was floored. Even he couldn’t believe how much she looked like him.”

Hussein Chalayan
“I actually don’t really see her as a fashion person. I think she appreciates fashion, and I think she’s excited by it. But I don’t think that’s the most important thing about her. I was asked to represent Turkey in the Venice Biennale in 2005. She became the environment. She became the emotion of what I was trying to do. I feel she walks in on a story and learns from it.” 

Christian Hodell
“For a long time people have said she’s a muse, but she’s more that. A muse suggests someone who sits around on a divan inspiring other people, but Tilda gets her hands dirty puts her money where her mouth is and gets other people to do the same. Her presence on a project brings so many new elements as people want to work with her. She has an incredibly big, beautiful brain that she loves to use. The word for her is brave. She’s not interested in the easy way out.”

Juergen Teller
“I would say she is incredibly quick in adapting to new scenarios where we think, Oh, that isn’t working out quite how we thought it would work out. When we did the shoot for W, there was a housekeeper downstairs walking the dogs and Tilda said, ‘Let’s get really dressed up like a really mad, rich woman and get a plastic cup and pick up dog shit.’ And that was completely her idea. It was hilarious. She charmed the dog walker, asking, “Can we have the dog for the picture?” She didn’t want to just stand there. She was able to push herself and enjoyed being a bigger person, wearing this wig and all the makeup, saying to her boyfriend, ‘Ooh, look at me!’ I was just blown away by her beauty, her far-away beauty. A sort of untouchable thing, and in the glass box it made it even more so. And you know that kind of aristocratic look she has.”

Original interviews by Jefferson Hack, Cath Clarke and Dave Calhoun